Best Laptop for Music – Choosing a laptop capable of running CPU-intensive audio production work can be tricky. Some options focus heavily on battery life. Others major on performance, and favour higher-grade processors (CPUs) to ensure operations run snappily. Add into that differences in screen sizes, aesthetics and any number of other variables and we can easily see how it’s hard to justify buying one model over another.
Adding extra effects or instrument plugins works the CPU. Exporting finished versions of your tracks works the CPU. You get the picture. If it involves processing, the CPU is your best friend so it pays to prioritise a solid model over most other features.
You’re essentially looking for two major things on the spec-sheet above all others: the CPU and the available RAM. The CPU is what does the real work. So every time you load a new MIDI instrument, fill the piano roll with data, or bounce down audio to new tracks, you’re asking the CPU to translate it into sound.
Many of the laptop we have chosen to review have attributes we haven’t delved into in an effort to keep specification breakdowns relevant to audio production purposes. We have also aimed to surmise in concise terms all of the more vital aspects you will require to get a laptop with optimum performance when running a digital audio workspace.
Whilst many of those we have looked at are capable of installing and running them fairly competently we have chosen to be very honest and clear as music production software can be very demanding of your computer as your production skills and methods evolve.back to menu ↑
- Apple-designed M1 chip for a giant leap in CPU, GPU, and machine learning performance
- Get more done with up to 20 hours of battery life, the longest ever in a Mac
- 8-core CPU delivers up to 2.8x faster performance to fly through workflows quicker than ever
- 8-core GPU with up to 5x faster graphics for graphics-intensive apps and games
- 16-core Neural Engine for advanced machine learning
- 8GB of unified memory so everything you do is fast and fluid
- Superfast SSD storage launches apps and opens files in an instant
- Active cooling system sustains incredible performance
- 13.3-inch Retina display with 500 nits of brightness for vibrant colors and incredible image detail
- FaceTime HD camera with advanced image signal processor for clearer, sharper video calls
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- 13.4" FHD (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
- 11th Generation, Intel Core i7-1185G7 Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.8 GHz)
- 16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x Memory Onboard, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- Intel Iris Xe Graphics with shared graphics memory
- Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2 x 2) and Bluetooth 5.1
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- Microsoft Surface Book 2 features a 8th generation Intel Dual Core i5 Processor, 256 GB of storage, 16 GB RAM, and up to 17 hours of video playback
- Includes an Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated GPU
- The fastest surface Book yet, with 2x more power
- Vibrant PixelSense Display: Now available with an improved 15" Touchscreen
- Four versatile modes of use and new USB-C port
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- More power: The 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor provides the ultimate level of performance with up to 5.0 GHz max turbo and 6 cores
- Ray-tracing: The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q Design is powered by the NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and brings cinematic-quality rendering to the most visually intense games
- More frames: Incredible performance paired with the fast 144Hz 15. 6" full HD thin bezel display helps edge out the win
- Thin and compact: The CNC aluminum unibody frame houses incredible performance in the most compact footprint possible, while remaining remarkably durable and just 0.78" thin
- Ready to connect: Fully loaded with Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3, USB type-A and type-C ports, and HDMI, for a desktop-class experience
- Make it yours: Customize the backlight color of the keyboard with Razer Chroma, and expand the memory and storage, making the Razer Blade 15 uniquely yours
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5.Asus ROG Strix
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 (base: 1215 MHz, Boost: 1440 MHz; TDP: 115W)
- 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750h Processor
- 240Hz 15.6” 1920x1080 IPS Type Display
- 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM | 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD | Windows 10 Home | Gigabit wave 2 Wi-Fi 5 (802.11AC)
- ROG intelligent cooling Thermal system with dual 12V fans, Triple radiators, anti-dust technology, and adjustable fan modes
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6.Lenovo Y700 17.3″
- CPU Intel Core i7 (6th Gen) 6700HQ / 2.6 GHz
- Max Supported Size 16 GB
- Technology DDR4 SDRAM
- Speed 2133 MHz / PC4-17000
- Capacity 1 TB
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- [Upgraded by CUE]16GB DDR4 SDRAM |256GB Solid State Drive
- 8th Generation Intel Core i7 Processors i7-8550U (Base 1.80 GHz, Up to 4.00 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 8 MB Intel Smart Cache, 4 Cores, 8 Threads)
- 15 inch Full HD ( 1920 x 1080 ) Touchscreen Anti-Glare 350nits 16: 9 Aspect Ratio Widescreen LED Display I AMD Radeon 540 Graphics with 2GB GDDR5 Graphic Memory
- 1 x USB-C [up to 5Gbps, 4K display out with optional adapter, Charging], 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI, 1 x MicroSD Multi-media Card Reader, 1 x Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack
- CUE Accessories: Mouse pad, USB cable and HDMI Cable;Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Built-in HD 720p Webcam with Integrated Digital Microphone, Backlit Keyboard, Wireless-AC (2 x 2)and Bluetooth 4.1 Combo, up to 12.5 hours battery life
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- Powerful & fast for effortless on-the-go computing: 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD & 16GB RAM
- Durable & reliable: meets the ultra-demanding MIL-STD-810G military standard for reliability and durability, undergoing a punishing testing regime
- Long battery life: powered by a high-capacity battery that won’t let you down
- Exclusive ErgoLift design: an engineering masterpiece designed to automatically tilt the keyboard to the most comfortable typing position, plus it improves cooling and audio performance
- Professional Grade: use Windows your way with Windows 10 Professional and hardware TPM security
- Ultra slim bezels: The 13. 3” Full HD NanoEdge display with a 95% screen-to-body ratio is designed to give you the most screen area in the least physical space and makes any visuals more immersive
- Exclusive ASUS NumberPad: with one tap, your touchpad becomes a numeric keypad for speedy data entry
- Thin, lightweight and stylish: comfortably portable at only 2. 6 pounds and featuring iconic Zen-inspired spun-metal finish
- Includes 1 year free ASUS Accidental Damage Protection
- Carry sleeve and USB3. 0 to RJ45 cable included
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- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
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- AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core Mobile Processor (Up to 4.1GHz) with Radeon Graphics | 16GB LPDDR4X Memory | 512GB NVMe SSD
- 14" Full HD Widescreen IPS LED-backlit Display (1920 x 1080 resolution; 16:9 aspect ratio)
- Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX200 802.11ax | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint Reader
- 1 - USB Type-C port USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps) DisplayPort over USB Type-C & USB Charging, 1 - USB 3.2 Gen 1 port (featuring power-off charging), 1 - USB 2.0 port & 1 - HDMI port
- Just 0.63" thin and 2.65 lbs and up to 11.5 hours of battery life!
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Best Laptop for Music – BUYER’S GUIDEback to menu ↑
CPUs: A fork in the road
Essentially, a faster processor means two things; your computer can handle more tasks being thrown at it, and it can ‘process’ those things a lot quicker. You may see only small differences; perhaps an audio file will render one minute quicker using the faster of two processors, but over time this clearly adds up.
In the CPU world, there are two major players. Intel is the big name, with a huge share of the market. Intel’s range goes from i3 – the least powerful – all the way up to i9. Most common in mid-to-upper tier laptops, however, are the i5 and i7 variants, and within that sphere you have different speed ratings, measured in gigahertz, as well as the option to turbo-boost when you’re placing the computer under major stress. The other name to look out for is AMD, which produces the Ryzen processors. These follow a similar nomenclature to the Intel versions, so R3, R5 and so on, and are popular amongst the gaming crowd.
Where things might change in the coming years is with Apple’s switch to using its own in-house silicon CPU, called the M1. It’s been well-documented about the changes that are on the way, and the resulting boost in power and performance, but for musicians and producers the true benefits to this are likely a way off yet. For a start, the software vendors must ensure compatibility with this new architecture which is by no means guaranteed. So, while it’s worth keeping an eye on developments, it doesn’t necessarily mean holding off on your purchase in the short term.back to menu ↑
With RAM, as we mentioned, you can ignore the ‘minimum specs’ listed on the websites of the major DAWs. Anybody who tries to run a multitrack Ableton Live session on a laptop with 4GB of RAM is braver (or more patient) than we are. That’s because RAM is effectively the short-term memory of your machine. With audio applications, particularly those involving lots of recorded audio, a higher amount of RAM means your audio playback is buttery smooth and glitch-free because the computer isn’t having to ‘grab’ the audio from the hard drive each time it wants to play.
If you’re buying now, with the next few years of use in mind, we’d suggest 8GB of DDR4 memory is the absolute minimum you should be looking for. Ideally, you’d want 16GB, as this will handle much larger arrangements, although there is a cost to this extra resource.
It’s also worth investigating whether the laptop you choose can be upgraded with extra RAM in the future. Apple laptop fans won’t have this luxury, due to their sealed chassis, but laptop PC users might.
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Storage memory comes a close second. For audio applications, particularly those involving sample libraries where audio is streamed from disk, you’ll want to use a solid state drive (SSD). The benefit of these drives is the rapid data transfer, meaning files load quicker, although they are slightly more expensive than their hard disk drive (HDD) equivalent. For music production applications, however, the extra expense is totally justified.
It’s not uncommon however to see a combination employed – a HDD for storage of files, photos and videos, and an SSD for tasks where more instantaneous responses are required. The alternative involves using external hard drives; SSDs, particularly those that take advantage of USB-C technology, are more than capable of the types of transfer speeds required for music production.back to menu ↑
So, clearly there is a lot to think about when choosing the best laptop for music production.
It’s easy to see why a good all-round laptop can fetch a premium price tag, but, as with anything from the best samplers and studio monitors to home studio mixers, you get what you pay for, so it’s always wise to get the best you can afford, rather than skimping and regretting your purchase later (often quicker than you thought). Our price comparison software will come in handy here. Next to each product entry on this guide our price widgets will display the best deals online right now to save you shopping around.
We won’t be focussing on various legacy ins and outs, such as the number of USB sockets, or lack of, for your audio interface, and so on. With so many dongle and docking options available, this shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your purchasing journey. In this guide we’re talking sheer horsepower for music-making. For example, can your portable rig cope with large multitrack sessions, running handfuls of plugins and MIDI instruments? Want to take a closer look? Hit the ‘product guide & reviews’ button above.back to menu ↑
Frequently Asked Questionsback to menu ↑
Best Budget Laptop For Music Production?
Unfortunately in the world of audio production the faster the better, so as to avoid crashes and glitches or latency loss in the middle of recordings. The top laptops for audio production we have looked at in this article all make for reasonably priced budget options.
The best value for money in our opinion would be the Alienware or the Razor Blade Stealth, each are gaming laptops with high-end graphics that have good sound processing capability, they have superior CPUs and great clock speeds and fair RAM and storage. They aren’t however exactly cheap.
The cheapest option on our list is the tablet option, the Lenovo yoga book, but it only runs an Android operating system so won’t manage most full DAW. It makes for a good option if cash is of concern, for younger users and those just curiously branching out into songwriting. There are a decent amount of Apps that have great content for basic audio production. If your budget simply won’t stretch to the $1000 dollar mark this might be an ideal starting point for you.back to menu ↑
Which Is Better For Music Production – Laptop or Desktop?
Ultimately a desktop is better for music production especially considering that they can be upgraded and built-on with relative ease. Though much more capable, they have their drawbacks meaning they need to be set up and remain where they are located. They are a worthy investment if you’re serious about setting up a home studio, however, we live in a modern world that is constantly on the move and being able to take your work with you is every bit as valuable.
If you already have a studio set-up a laptop for music production essential tools for taking those hours of endless editing home with you to be done in more comfortable surroundings.
There are some great laptops around which bring with them their smaller footprint and the convenience of being able to set up shop at a moments notice in any situation, however, the truly capable ones with the ideal set of specs can set you back in excess of $2500.
If you are investing in a new laptop that can specifically handle your DAW workloads you will need one with a good number of USB ports (ideally 3.0 or Thunderbolt), a great processor, fast memory speeds, 16+ GB of RAM and a decent amount of SSD storage.back to menu ↑
There is a good chance you’ll have lots of programs and tabs open at the same time and you will need the ability to add at least 1 extra screen (many people use 2 or 3). These usage requirements use a lot of RAM and graphic power, respectively. I recommend getting at least 16GB RAM if at all possible.
Most important for audio processing is a CPU with fast single-core performance. This will allow you to get your mixes into a single file much quicker and process effects and chains without the CPU needing to wait, among many other benefits. 8th generation Intel i7 processors are the best, followed by Intel i5. 7th generation processors are also excellent.